A picture worth far less than a thousand words

This image, touted by David Limbaugh, made the rounds yesterday. Conservatives seem to like it, but I’m really not sure why the right would even bother. (via Steve M.)

If you’re having trouble seeing it, the image claims to show Rick Perry and Barack Obama when both were 22 years old. On the left, we see Perry posing alongside an Air Force plane’s cockpit, and on the right, we see a young Obama smoking and wearing a hat.

Politico says it’s an image “you’re likely to see again.” A Perry campaign spokesperson boasted soon after, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

Now, as it turns out, National Review‘s Daniel Foster noted that the picture of Obama “seems to come from a roll of film shot by a friend at Occidental college, which Obama left, in favor of Columbia, years before he was 22,” suggesting the competing images aren’t even accurate.

But never mind that. Even if we accept the Perry/Obama image at face value, this is still entirely pointless.

For one thing, no one really cares what the candidates were like three decades before an election. Through much of his 30s, George W. Bush was a failed businessman with a drinking problem — and voters couldn’t care less. Candidates’ background may be of some interest, but the GOP pitch is going to fall flat if it comes down to, “Vote for our guy, because he was a more accomplished 22 year old than the president.”

For another, if the argument here is that Perry is more deserving of the presidency because he served in the military, I’d remind the right that the candidate with more military experience routinely loses. In the last three decades, the presidential nominee with more military background lost six out of eight times — 2008, 2004, 2000, 1996, 1992, and 1980 — including each of the last five national cycles.

This is an image we’re “likely to see again”? Perhaps, but I suspect no one at Obama campaign HQ is especially worried about it.

Update: Jamison Foser gives the image a little touch-up, and raises a relevant point.